Finding the Right Agency to Scale, Fix or Refresh Your Franchise

Jan 22, 2024

Franchising is good business – if you can get it. After all, there are no less than 805,000 franchise units in the U.S. alone, with around 15,000 added just in 2023. Whether we are talking about end-user sales or franchise sales, a successful franchise requires strong business and marketing discipline on both sides.

Some franchise brands have a compelling consumer-facing model but little success or idea of how to scale the brand to other franchisees. Other concepts struggle to sell locations because their end-user-facing performance is down. Of course, some concepts face challenges on both sides, which can be attributed to a number of issues – brand, experience, products, competition, unit-level economics, and marketing, to name the biggest Achilles’ heels.

What’s a franchisor to do?

The first priority is to identify a partner, or partners, who can help you address the challenges that are slowing your franchise’s trajectory. It seems logical to look for an agency that specializes in franchising, one with a portfolio of brands similar in size, cost, audience and industry. And there are about 20 national franchise agencies that fit that description. The dilemma, of course, is that they may have competitors as clients or simply too many franchises, and ultimately, you are competing for horizontal industry exposure in the likes of franchise outlets.

The ideal scenario is a firm experienced with early-stage, middle-market and national/international franchise brands across a diverse range of industries. Because being successful in food vs. fitness vs. home improvement doesn’t allow for a one-size-fits-all approach. The more varied an agency is, the more challenging scenarios they’ve experienced and hopefully overcome. Franchise size is also important because agencies that have helped owners launch and scale from one unit to 100 show real chops. And the agency with ten franchise clients vs. 40-60 will not be a threat but an experienced partner.

Franchisors must also decide whether to divide responsibilities across multiple agencies or keep everything under one roof. It’s an important decision with a lot of considerations to factor in. Does your internal team have the bandwidth to manage multiple agencies? What’s the cost difference between single services with multiple agencies vs. one agency with multiple integrated ones?

The reality is there are only a few of us with just the right number of franchise clients, the depth of integrated services, and experience on the B2B and B2C side. It may seem like a tall order to find one who really can be a single-source solution.

Our suggestion? Start with a discovery call. Ask about the portfolio, industry experience and types of programming – branding, web, video, lead-gen, reputation, crisis, etc. You need it all, so vet it all whether you are trying to scale, fix or refresh your franchise.